BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — While the pandemic has led to a nursing shortage and increased stress on our nursing students, local nursing programs have remained resistant to the plight of the pandemic, with high graduation rates continuing and nursing graduates staying local after graduating.
Krystian Florentino is about to enter his final semester as a nursing student at Cal State Bakersfield. He started the program pre-pandemic, and has experienced how the pandemic changed the program since the Spring of 2020.
“It really did feel like we were missing a big chunk of our education and it was unfortunate,” he said.
When the pandemic hit, nursing programs at CSUB and Bakersfield College both had to move to virtual learning. With COVID-19 protocols limiting entry to local hospitals and ER’s, clinical practice for students was difficult, forcing nursing programs to find alternatives.
“Well we definitely had to be creative,” said Carla Gard, Director of Nursing at BC.
Both BC and CSUB moved to online learning during the start of the pandemic for theoretical lectures and utilized life-like simulations online and in person for their clinical testing.
“They go through that same nursing process that they would with a real patient but with a mannequin,” said Debra Wilson, Director of Nursing at CSUB.
While they did their best, Florentino says it was difficult to compare a simulation to real-life.
“It was definitely hard to learn and apply our lecture content on the virtual simulations,” he said.
“I think probably just losing that connection with the students has been problematic,” Wilson said.
This hasn’t stopped the programs though from producing nursing graduates ready to enter the workforce. At CSUB, Wilson said their pass rate for nursing students is around 94 percent.
For both BC and CSUB, many local graduating nursing students remain in the community, assisting our local frontline workers.
“We have 95% of our graduates stay local, and I pulled data from the last 5 years of our programs,” Gard said.
The American Association of Colleges and Nursing estimates that by the year 2030, California will be short by 44,000 nurses. In the Fall of 2020, nursing programs resumed clinical training, but most rotations were cut in half. Florentino says while he knows he’s entering a field that’s short-staffed and constantly changing, he says he feels prepared.
“It’s definitely been a humbling experience and being able to provide patient care during the pandemic alongside healthcare workers, it’s allowed me to experience the teamwork and the resilience that goes into providing care for these patients,” he said.
Florentino said after he graduates he plans to gain a few years of work experience before getting his master's degree in nurse anesthesiology.